And the Academy Award tickets go to . . . Michael Ferro

Michael Ferro

Michael Ferro

If you’re Michael Ferro, $44.4 million will buy you more than the board chairmanship of Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

It’ll also get you tickets to the Academy Awards.

PoliticoMedia reported Monday that Ferro took passes obtained by the L.A. Times for its coverage of the Oscars.

“The Times had been allocated six passes for entry to the Dolby Theater – essential access to tell the story of the night by the big broadsheet located in America’s entertainment capital – but until the last minute not one of them was allocated to a reporter,” wrote media analyst Ken Doctor.

“Tribune Publishing Chairman Michael Ferro and CEO Justin Dearborn reportedly used the passes, each along with a guest. The last two were earmarked for publisher Tim Ryan, who was persuaded to do the right thing and gave up his seats after receiving a flabbergasted email from the Times’ film desk.”

Doctor noted the irony of it all: “ ‘Spotlight’ — a cinematic triumph celebrating the craft of working journalists — unexpectedly won the Best Picture Oscar, while simultaneously, the L.A. Times’ own journalists had to fight their bosses to do their jobs.”

Sources long have described Ferro as “star struck” and “celebrity-obsessed,” citing his hiring of Jenny McCarthy as a columnist at the Sun-Times and his buying a credit as executive producer of “Life Itself,” the documentary about the late film critic Roger Ebert.

“Michael’s contribution to the film . . . amounted to nearly half of the total funds raised from individual donors,” according to film’s website. “His support for ‘Life Itself’ came as a charitable gift through his personal non-profit foundation.”

Tuesday afternoon update: Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times, released this statement:

“We requested Michael and Justin attend the Awards ceremony, just like top media executives of other major outlets do. The film industry represents one of our most important coverage areas — and  the paper’s largest advertisers.

“We had a robust contingent of reporters and photographers on the red carpet, in the ballroom, backstage and in the auditorium. That’s why we had 3 million unique visitors consuming our continuous Oscar coverage.”